October 24, 2014

Column from Florida Trend's Business Coach

Are you making your prospects work too hard?

Ron Stein | 3/19/2012

Does your business make it hard for customers to purchase from you?

You’ve seen it before — you want to give a company money for their great products and services, but they place barriers in front of you at almost every turn.

Lift yourself out of the "sales prevention" mindset — let your buyers buy in ways that suit them, not you. Look at your processes and tactics to find ways to simplify life, for your prospects and you too.

Unfortunately, sales prevention occurs all the time — on websites, during sales presentations, and over the phone. Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, simplify to sell more.

It’s not done on purpose, yet in the zeal to capture information or provide choices, you end up preventing a sale. Maybe, you are so proud of your company’s products that before the deal is sealed you want prospects to sit through a pitch on stuff they don’t need.

Charles Mingus, the American virtuoso bass player, bandleader, and composer said, "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity."

  • More is not better. Many times sales people will continue to present all of their possible products or features even though the prospect has expressed interest in only a specific solution. It’s frustrating for people and you’ll lose their attention quickly. The same thing can happen on your website if you rattle off a list of features without allowing the visitor to first identify the solution they are looking for. Do that and then have them click through to the specific product or service that works best for them;
  • Avoid navigation chaos. Your website is a power element in your marketing arsenal, but only if it allows prospects to find what they’re looking for and quickly. Otherwise, people leave without sticking around to discover your treasure. The navigation menu needs to be logical and clear, yet without too many layers. If the nature of your offering demands lots of information, have a search box near the top of each page. Also include a site map button on each page — both humans and search engines will appreciate it;
  • Say no to information overload. Recently I came across a company that offered a free download of a white paper that seemed to offer exactly the information I was looking for. When I clicked through to get it, I was confronted with no less than ten questions — almost all of which required a fair amount of typing. That was too much for me and I decided to move on. My name email address, and maybe one or two more questions should have been more than enough for them. I’m sure their marketing department wanted to make sure I was qualified — my advice to them is to let focused messaging draw in the correct target audience, then keep the form simple to get the conversation rolling.

Simplify to sell more. It’ll make life easier for you and your future customers. When you give prospects a painless experience and then ask them to take the next step with you, they’ll say "yes" more often.


Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's business coach, Ron Stein
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com

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